The United States Federal Government Should Adopt a Nationwide Carbon Tax
CON (4 arguments)
A carbon tax could raise prices of many goods because of energy costs, which would affect our economy negatively. Many goods, such as flour or meat, takes energy to process and ship. If there was a tax on carbon than the price of these goods would sky rocket. A carbon tax would tax 85% of energy we use, and almost everything produced and processed requires the use of energy. Almost every business in the US runs on coal and oil. They need this energy to transport and manufacture items. A tax on 85% of energy would raise the prices of transporting and manufacturing items, therefore raising prices of these items themselves. Many people survive on cheap foods, but with a carbon tax these cheap foods would become more expensive. It would be almost impossible to set up a good carbon tax that took this into account while still benefitting the economy and the environment. Therefore, a carbon tax would be ineffective and would cause harm to our economy as a whole, particularly by raising prices.
We don’t need to raise the prices of almost everything as an attempt to help the environment. It’s just not worth it.
When moving from academic theory to historical experience, we see that carbon taxes have not lived up to the promises of their supporters.
Only 4 nations — Ireland, Sweden, Chile, and Finland — actually have carbon taxation today. The largest economy to ever have a carbon tax, Australia, repealed it in 2014 over concerns it was harming the economy. No country taxes CO2 emissions at the levels deemed necessary to substantially mitigate global warming as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.. The study found that even the most well regarded carbon taxes haven’t done much to actually reduce CO2 emissions. Even in British Columbia — touted as the world’s finest example of a carbon tax — the experience has been underwhelming. After an initial (but temporary) drop, the B.C. carbon tax has not yielded significant reductions in gasoline purchases, and it has arguably reduced the B.C. economy’s performance relative to the rest of Canada.
A carbon tax will make the costs of virtually everything go up. Poorer citizens spend a lot of their income on gas for the commuting to work, and initiating a carbon tax would raise the price of gasoline. This would leave them with less to spend on essentials like food, shelter, and clothing.
Critics have said carbon taxation disproportionately harms the poorest members of society. A 2009 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that a carbon tax would double the tax burden of the poorest households, making it effectively impossible to have both a carbon tax and a living wage. A tax on all man-made greenhouse gas emissions would make the tax burden of the poorest households three times greater than that of the richest households, according to the study. A non-revenue neutral carbon tax in the U.S. would impose a net tax hike of at least $695 billion in its first 20 years.
It is unfair to put the expense of cleaning up the environment on the backs of the poor.
Cap and trade has become the cornerstone of successful efforts to achieve low-cost reductions in sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States.
Environmental Defense Fund economist Gernot Wagner said. “Putting a price on carbon emissions via cap and trade is among the best possible ways to get emissions down quickly and cheaply." Europe uses a cap-and-trade program to keep its carbon dioxide pollution within levels required by international agreements. Two cap-and trade programs also operate in the U.S., and states are considering creating more. In addition, some countries that started with carbon taxes, including Norway, Sweden and Germany, now are increasingly relying on cap and trade. The cap-and-trade option has attracted far more attention and has many more supporters than the carbon tax, including President Obama, key Congressional leaders, and an influential coalition of environmental groups and big businesses, including General Electric, Dow Chemical, Shell Oil, and Duke Energy.
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions